After recently rejecting a new contract, union drivers at Las Vegas’ second-largest taxicab company will conduct a strike authorization vote starting this morning and running continuously through Thursday afternoon.
The move comes after drivers belonging to the Industrial Technical Professional Employees Union Local 4873 voted against a proposed five-year pact with Yellow Checker Star Transportation. The results were announced on Saturday.
Although the actual tally was not released, a union official said an unspecified majority of the 1,264 drivers belonging to the union had cast ballots and 80 percent of them opted for rejection. The proposed contract, to replace one that expired in September, contained a mix of improvements and drawbacks for the drivers.
The company released a statement attributing the defeat to a “low voter turnout, representing only 35 percent” of Yellow Checker Star’s 1,700 drivers, although union leaders disputed the accuracy of the turnout figure.
Both sides said they will attempt to schedule further talks but have not set specific dates. The strike would be authorized starting 12:10 a.m. on Dec. 16, but would not necessarily take place immediately.
“We never had any sense that this (contract proposal) was going down to defeat,” said Bill Shranko, chief operating officer of Yellow Checker Star. “We were very disappointed that it didn’t pass.”
He described the strike authorization as a standard part of the negotiating process, but did not comment on specific provisions of the proposed contract or whether he expected a strike.
Shranko said the company had offered to restart talks today but had been turned down in favor of a Dec. 11 meeting.
“They can go 24 hours a day to get signatures for a strike authorization but they can’t find time to talk,” Shranko said. “It’s getting ridiculous.”
A union official disagreed.
“There is nothing we feel that is out of bounds right now,” said Sam Moffett, a union steward. “It’s entirely up to the union membership as to how things go.”
However, one person familiar with the talks who asked not to be identified doubted that a walkout would take place soon. Yellow Checker Star will pay both safety and general bonuses at an unspecified date later this month, which could amount to several hundred dollars each for many drivers.
A Yellow Checker Star strike would take one-fourth of the cabs permitted in Las Vegas off the streets. While much of December is slow for the industry, the pace picks up in the week before New Year’s Eve and the busy January convention schedule, with the lost revenues hitting both the company and the drivers. Drivers in Las Vegas do not work for an hourly wage but split the revenue with the companies.
“Right now, everyone is posturing,” said one person, who asked not to be identified.
The Nevada Taxicab Authority on Oct. 31 authorized issuance of as many as 30 operating permits, known as medallions, to companies not on strike. However, that expired Nov. 27 and would have to be renewed at the scheduled Dec. 11 board meeting.
The company termed the contract proposal “the most generous in the taxi business.” Included in the deal were provisions such as two additional unexcused sick days without penalty, increases in the annual safety and general bonuses, starting health insurance coverage more quickly and advancing drivers to the second pay step, a 41 share of revenues instead of the initial 39 percent, after 12 months instead of the current 18.
But Brian Stanley listed a number of other changes that led him to vote no. “I am tired of starving,” he said.
The other pay steps, to 43 percent after five years and 43.5 percent after 10 years, were unchanged. Some other cab companies pay 50 percent but require drivers to pay for their own gasoline, something Yellow Checker Star does not.
In addition, Stanley objected to the lack of a freeze on health insurance payments and the loss of flex time, which allowed drivers to work for four days a week if they took 12-hour shifts. The contract would have permitted flex time only after six years on the job.
Drivers represented by the United Steelworkers Union Local 711-A voted down a contract with the largest cab company, Frias Transportation Management, in October. The terms of the old contract are being extended on a daily basis.
Contact reporter Tim O’Reiley at
email@example.com or 702-387-5290.